Good news ... a declaration from the CDF about the invalidity of a baptismal formula being used by some nutters somewhere. (Where? Anybody know? It would also be interesting to know the seminary decades of the nutful clergy involved.)
Good news, because it indicates, to my way of thinking, that the CDF is still in competent hands. Soon after the start of this pontificate, I expressed a fear that PF might hand over the CDF to his Argentine crony "Gimme a Kiss" Fernandez. I was wrong. I hope and pray that I will continue to be totally, completely, wrong, for as long as it takes. It means something, even in the darkest of days, that the CDF (and the CDWDS) is headed by somebody who is uncompromised by heterodoxy.
The baptismal formula now condemned as invalid starts off by saying "In the name of ..." and then mentions the parents, godparents, and, indeed, everybody and anybody else who might be upset not to be listed; and finally it says " ... we baptise you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".
The Decree has the usual CDF guarantee that the Roman Pontiff has approved it and ordered it to be published. It makes very clear that those invalidly "baptised" by the use of this formula must be identified and baptised (absolutely; not conditionally).
A devilish paradox, isn't it ... some barmy priestling gets the idea that he will mess around with the formula so as to make it "more inclusive" (or whatever his motive was).
By means of this brilliant idea, the poor fool renders Baptism, the Church's liminal Sacrament ... invalid! His lordship the Bishop of Stupidland will now have to tell Father Nutcase that he must get in touch with the families of all those whom he has non-baptised, and shamefacedly explain why they've got to bring baby back in order to ... er .... actually be baptised. And matters are probably much worse even than that. Fashionable fads have the capacity to spread like wildfire (Holy Water stoups filled with sand during Lent?). Fr Nutcase will pretty certainly have boasted to all his gullible clerical friends about his megafantastic idea, and the dafter among them will, like the dumb and impressionable sheep they are, have copied him. BaaaHaaa. So we probably have an invalid-baptism pandemic spreading like Coronavirus throughout Stupidland and its adjacent areas.
And Fr Nutcase may, mendaciously, have entered into his baptismal register an assertion that he baptised A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, and N according to the rites of the Catholic Church. Granted that he conscientiously attempts to rectify the situation with regard to every single one of those he has so cleverly, so inventively, so trendily, non-baptised, can we be sure of his 100% success? If not, imagine that one of these, in 25 years' time, is approaching Ordination. A certificate of Baptism based upon an untruthful register signed by a barmy priest could result in an unbaptised Ordinandus being non-ordained to the priesthood. And, later, consecrated to the lordly ranks of the non-Episcopate.
To baptise validly is so simple that, after a few minutes' coaching, a five-year-old could do it. It beggars belief that even a stupid man can spend seven years in a seminary and emerge from that expensive process unable to be relied upon to baptise validly.
It is not difficult to understand why Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre took the line he did.
I haven't always felt sure that he was right to push matters to a breaking point in 1988.
I was wrong. Now I know better. The Novus Ordo Church and its bishops indeed could not then be trusted to form priests. When we Ordinariate clergy spent time in Allen Hall (and what a privilege it was to be allowed to share in such an august heritage) the then Rector alluded to the decades when all had not been well in that place. I wonder if, even now, some areas of corruption still persist in the seminary world. How much time did they devote to Sacramental Theology in their seminal explorations at the Theodore Cardinal McCarrick Beach Academy?
We do not need clever priests, or clever bishops, or even clever popes, half as much as we need clerics who are humble enough ... and clever enough ... not to be clever.
I've just had an alternative idea. Fr Nutcase is a sedevacantist agent, part of a huge network maintained world-wide by Pan Cekada. Having smuggled invalidity into the Catholic Church and its ministry, they will keep careful records and eventually ... etc. etc.. Am I right?
14 August 2020
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Wonderful piece - a lesson in humility through humor. Would that...
Pan Cekada? Comintern more like.
An alternative theory to "the N.O. cannot form priests" is that it's not the changes in the Church that were the problem, but the changes in the world. In other words, I tend to wonder how much of the "well, *I* know better--let me just personalize it and pastoralise it" element might have have been just as bad without Vatican II--but with 2 key differences:
1. All the "personalisation" would have been in the Mass of the Ages context--possibly more damaging it (and easier to hide from a laity that is almost completely unable to comprehend Latin now).
2. There would have been less "self-sorting," which, while it certainly has its issues, DOES give the laity a clear "compare and contrast" situation--no layperson concerned about such things really needs to worry AT ALL about a Latin Mass's liceity, let alone its validity. If you're celebrating a Latin Mass, it's practically a guarantee that the only elements of personalisation being added are in fields with licit variation.
None of which is to say that what happened was God's plan or anything like that, but I do wonder if the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we travel like Joseph in Egypt isn't all redounding in the end to His glory.
I submitted these dubia to the CDF two years ago. They were occasioned by a rite celebrated by a man who had been a deacon for ten years, not in my own diocese. Specifically, he took the hand of the baptisand's three-year-old brother and used it to pour the water, saying, "we baptise etc.," then did the same to another child with the "help" of an older sister. He probably did it every time he was to baptise someone with an older sibling for the entire time he had been a deacon. Two months after I wrote, he received the letter from the bishop that you have imagined. My pastor later told me I should have written to the Bishop of Stupidland first, since he is the sort of man who would not stand for this, but I'm quite pleased with myself now after reading a few stories of people who have realised they needed to be baptised in the wake of this decision.
I am so sorry to hear of the horrible non-baptisms, arranged, presumably, in good faith. I am very happy that the good Archbishop Lefebvre seemed to have some prescience of the coming chaos, and decided to call a halt when he did. As an aside, I am so happy that my two dear sons were baptized by Monsignor Lefebvre's priests, as have been their children. They got off to a good start whether or not they appreciate it in the years to come. And I pray for those unfortunates with the shady baptisms that their faith will make up for the lack of form, due to their good faith and the faith of the family. One can hope.
Best to you, Father!
Please note that this calls into question a huge number of baptisms from Protestant sects. I know a person who entered the Catholic Church through RCIA over a year or two ago.
The baptismal record of Spouse #1 from the Protestant sect had been accepted during the RCIA process without much scrutiny because it had the right words on it. When this decree came out Spouse #1 and Spouse #2 examined the video evidence (thank God they had the video evidence) of the purported baptism, since Spouse #1 was concerned. The "baptism" as performed in the Protestant sect used the "we" formula! Invalid!
They submitted the video proof to the judicial vicar of the diocese and in a few hours it was declared null. Before the end of the day Spouse #1 was properly baptized, confirmed, and then they were validly married to Spouse #2.
The bottom line is that with this decree that I think a great many converts should be baptized conditionally when they enter the Church. Sadly this is not the case in the USA. I think because of ecumenical concerns.
Thank you, Calvin Engime. And bless you.
I could better understand the poor Norse medieval guys who tried to baptize with beer. I mean, at least there's water in beer.
St. Athanasius, pray for us!
That said, it's not necessarily the seminaries. The seminaries that were bad were rather organized and authoritarian about it; but the idea that you could just change whatever you liked in any way you liked was something floating around with individuals. If there's an incriminating book by a seminary professor, or a cute little booklet, then it would have come from a seminary. Otherwise, I'm afraid it came from some sickeningly sweet liturgical workshop, most of which are apparently allied with the cutesy wootsy version of Satan.
"A certificate of Baptism based upon an untruthful register signed by a barmy priest could result in an unbaptised Ordinandus being non-ordained to the priesthood."
It's happened already. The archdiocese of Detroit announces that, after fresh CDF letter on formula of Baptism, Detroit priest (class of 2017) finds he wasn’t validly christened, thus rendering all his other sacraments and acts of ministry invalid; he was duly ordained deacon and priest this week after re-Baptism and Confirmation."
The same thing happened to a man who thought he had been ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in June 2019. When he learned of the CDF's decision, he reviewed the video of his baptism in the Diocese of Fort Worth in 1992, discovered that the deacon said "we," and was baptised, confirmed, and ordained to the diaconate and priesthood this month: https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/invalidly-baptized-oklahoma-priest-baptized-and-re-ordained-44890
Interestingly, the article points out that a diocese received a contrary opinion about the plural pronoun from the Congregation for Divine Worship in 2003!
Incidentally, in case you did not hear, Anthony Cekada died on Friday morning after a long illness: https://www.muellerfunerals.com/obituary/the-rev-anthony-cekada
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